Thursday, 26 May 2011

More on Eliza Heywood (d. 1879)

I have previously mentioned Mrs Edward Caryl Fleetwood née Heywood aka Eliza Heywood (see here). Well, having happened upon a review of her first publication [Ca.9.1 Ermangarde] I thought I'd tidy up the OCR and post it here in case anyone is curious about this other Eliza Haywood/Heywood. If I find any other reviews in future, I will post them here too.

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Ermangarde, a Tale of the twelfth century. Royalist Lyrics; and other poems. By Eliza Heywood, Cheltenham, 1837.

If there be nothing else curious in the poem of Ermangarde, the story at least is of an uncommon kind. The scene is the Rhine:—one of the turretted crags is assailed by a robber chieftain, one of that fierce band whose depredations led to the formation of the Hanseatic league (at least we presume so, for the narrative is not very clear upon that point): the castle is burned, and its master perishes in the affray; but an infant son is saved, aud he lives to go to the wars himself, and become a count of the empire:—he falls in love with Ermangarde, the daughter of his patron; they exchange vows, and he goes to the Holy Land;—but in a few months she learns that he has proved unfaithful, and married a Jewish girl, under very dishonourable circumstances, that he died in battle, and bequeathed his wife and son to her care. This rather extraordinary legateeship Ermangarde discharges with exemplary kindness.

A year and a half elapse, during which time the wife and son reside with the ill-treated lady; when the forsworn knight suddenly appears. The report of his death was erroneous, and he has returned to thank the good Ermangarde for her bounty to his wife. Some time passes away very pleasnntly, all three living together as happily as possible: but at last the wife becomes jealous, (not, we suspect, before she had good cause), and Ermangarde pines sadly, and at last dies in the act of saying her prayers before her father's tomb.

Such is the tale, the versification of which is in all respects worthy of the singular incidents it records. We looked through the volume for the Royalist Lyrics, announced in the title-page, but could not find them. We perceive, however, that Eliza Heywood, who, of course must know more about the matter than the governments of Fiance and England, recognizes Don Carlos as King of Spain, and that she is strongly opposed to the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill. These are the principal points of interest in this lady's volume— as to the verses they como for the most part within the description of that happy species of composition, called "nonsense verses."

Court Magazine, and Monthly Critic 10:4 (April 1837): 194 (see here).

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Harvard College Library Borrowing Records

There has been a fascinating discussion on Exlibris-List this last week under the provocative title of "Happy birthday to us, we will now violate your privacy."

The original post (by Christine Karatnytsky) was prompted by a New York Public Library blog postings featuring a small selection of call slips (A History of the Library as Seen Through Notable Researchers).

Since many contributors to the Exlibris-List have written, studied or read studies based on library borrowing records the reaction to this blog post has been mixed, but largely supportive of the NYPL. Others were outraged and argued that the library had no right to retain or publish these call slips.

Personally, I am closer to Edward Levin's position: "there's a world of difference between a scholarly research project and a gratuitous 'books of the celebrities' blog post." And, while I wouldn't want to see the records destroyed, as some contributors would, this sort of populist celebrity-scholar reporting hardly justifies what is perilously close to invasion of privacy.

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One contribution in particular caught my eye. Christian Dupont explains that the Harvard College Library charging records between 1762 and 1896 have been digitised and are now available online! This resource is a part of the Harvard collection of resources Reading: Harvard Views of Readers, Readership, and Reading History (under "Using Libraries").

If you click on this link you will find 179 records for individual library account books etc. It takes a while to get the hang of the navigation software, particularly to get the images to appear large enough to read the manuscript entries (which are often cramped). But, flipping through a few volumes and leaves you will find some evidence of "light" reading among the law texts, medical dictionaries and other utilitarian books.

It would take a dedicated researcher to index the books that appear in these manuscript records against a College library catalogue to shine some light on borrowings from the library in the eighteenth-century. Without such an index it would take an even more dedicated Haywood scholar, a hugely dedicated Haywood scholar, to trawl all 179 volumes on the off-chance that a student recorded their borrowing of The Female Spectator. It would be nice if some one were so dedicated, but the chances seem low.

But, if someone were to index these records—and others like them—it wouldn't just be me and other Haywood scholars lining up to pat them on the back: a generation of scholars and PhD students would benefit from it.